Those of you who’ve read my post on the book “Too Big To Fail” by Andrew Ross Sorkin know my opinion on wordy, dull books. I am happy to announce that this book, “The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis is the antithesis of wordy in dull. I, sadly, can’t say I care for it, either. In this case, I think it simply fails to live up to its title.
When I tell you I’m going to take you “inside the doomsday machine”, do you expect me to expose the merciless cogs of a rapacious finance industry that uses the hopes and dreams of the middle-class american as a cheap alternative to 10W30? Do you expect to hear the cackles of a monocled, mustachioed, Machiavellian CEO of a multi-national banking and finance conglomerate as he says to the congressmen: “Fine, you can kill my bank, but by God, I’m taking every one of you down with me!” Would you expect feats of daring, visions of creeping horror, and excitement around every turn? No? Then your expectations are sufficiently low to enjoy this book.
“The Big Short” could be so much more interesting. Here we have one of the most monumental economic cataclysms since the Great Depression, and this is the best he can do?
I don’t want to give the story away, so I won’t go into detail. Happily it was a quick read and the story of shorting a pretty esoteric derivative was very approachable. I had an easy time following the discussion of LEAPS, CDOs, and other derivatives, and think you will too. Despite making a great story somewhat boring, the information about how the markets work is very understandable.
Once in a while, though, I got the sense that the author was trying to fill pages. I think a more aggressive editor could’ve tightened the book up quite a bit. Finally, there was no index, which made writing this review a tremendous pain. Note to publishers: all nonfiction books should have indices. No exceptions.
So, in summary, it’s a solid book for getting the basics of derivatives in an approachable, friendly milieu, and understanding some of the machinations of the markets, but fails to live up to the expectations set by the title.
P.S. – “Monocled”, “Mustachioed”, “Machiavellian”, “Milieu”, “Machinations”? Today’s post was definitely sponsored by the letter “M”.